U.S. Relations With Ethiopia

Bureau of African Affairs
Fact Sheet
May 10, 2017

More information about Ethiopia is available on the Ethiopia Page and from other Department of State publications and other sources listed at the end of this fact sheet.


The United States first established diplomatic relations with Ethiopia in 1903, and has maintained them ever since, despite changing forms of government.

The current regime was established in May 1991 when a coalition of guerrilla groups seized control of the capital city Addis Ababa after seventeen years of armed insurrection against a Marxist military dictatorship known as the Derg. This coalition, the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), established a federally organized state, with regions based on the ethnicity of the population. The country today is officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. The official ideology of the government is “developmental democracy,” a model that prioritizes economic development over political rights. The EPRDF controls all aspects of the government, economy, and security sector, and supports rapid, broad-based modernization intended to transform Ethiopia from a poor, rural, agricultural state to a middle income, urban, and industrialized powerhouse by 2025.

The diplomatic relationship between Ethiopia and the United States is important, complex and focused on four broad goals: (1) protecting American citizens, (2) strengthening democratic institutions and expanding human rights, (3) spurring broad-based economic growth and promoting development, and (4) advancing regional peace and security.

U.S. Assistance to Ethiopia

Ethiopia remains among the most effective development partners, particularly in the areas of health care, education, and food security. Activities include investments in high potential crop and livestock value chains, nutritional activities focused on children and pregnant and lactating mothers and resilience investments targeting chronically food insecure households and pastoral lowland communities. In addition, USDA supports Ethiopia’s agriculture development. The three-year $13 million Food for Progress program, known as the FEED project, helps to improve yields of meat, milk, and eggs by increasing the availability and quality of livestock feed.

Ethiopia has reduced poverty and improved human development during the past decade, meeting six of the eight Millennium Development Goals by 2015. When faced with the worst drought in more than 50 years in 2016, the Ethiopian government for the first time contributed significant domestic resources and manpower to address the impact and worked closely with international partners to mitigate the hardships.

Bilateral Economic Relations

Ethiopia ranks among the fastest growing economies in the world. Despite the recent drought, the IMF estimates Ethiopia will have an average GDP growth rate of 7.4% from 2017-2020. Ethiopia aims at reaching lower-middle income status by 2025 through sustained economic growth. The state is heavily engaged in the economy and Ethiopia’s growth is largely driven by state-run infrastructure development. Key sectors are state-owned, including telecommunications, financial services, and power distribution. However, the current growth and transformation plan advocates an increased role for the private sector, and Ethiopia is systematically addressing bureaucratic bottlenecks in an effort to improve its ranking on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index. The United States has a positive trade balance with Ethiopia, owing largely to purchase of more than 100 U.S.-origin aircraft by Ethiopian Airlines over the past 70 years.

The U.S. Embassy engages with the Ethiopian government to improve the business climate, create a level playing field for all investors, and to foster an entrepreneurship culture. There are growing opportunities for U.S. trade and investment, particularly in manufacturing, energy, and agricultural processing. Total U.S. foreign direct investment (FDI) including partnerships stands at more than $567 million, with more than $65 million originating solely from the United States. U.S. investment in Ethiopia, however, is dwarfed by Chinese, Turkish and other investments which are more than $15 billion, $7 billion and $5 billion, respectively.

Ethiopia is eligible for preferential trade benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). U.S. exports to Ethiopia include aircraft, wheat, machinery, low-value shipments and repaired products, and vegetables. U.S. imports from Ethiopia include coffee, oil seeds, textiles and garments. The United States has signed a trade and investment framework agreement with the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, of which Ethiopia is a member.

Ethiopia's Membership in International Organizations

Ethiopia and the United States belong to a number of the same international organizations, including the United Nations, International Monetary Fund, and World Bank. Ethiopia is an observer to the World Trade Organization. Ethiopia is currently serving on the UN Security Council as a non-permanent member until December 2018.

Bilateral Representation

The position of U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia is currently vacant; other principal embassy officials are listed in the Department's Key Officers List.

Ethiopia maintains an embassy in the United States at 3506 International Drive, NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202-364-1200).

More information about Ethiopia is available from the Department of State and other sources, some of which are listed here:

Department of State Ethiopia Page
Department of State Key Officers List
CIA World Factbook Ethiopia Page
U.S. Embassy
USAID Ethiopia Page
History of U.S. Relations With Ethiopia
Human Rights Reports
International Religious Freedom Reports
Trafficking in Persons Reports
Narcotics Control Reports
Investment Climate Statements
Office of the U.S. Trade Representative Country Page
U.S. Census Bureau Foreign Trade Statistics
Export.gov International Offices Page
Library of Congress Country Studies
Travel Information